by Milann Ruff Daugherty

"We pray Heaven she may have her reward in seeing rebellion soon crushed, the union restored, and every section, every State united in one eternal brotherhood, never again to be broken or rent. Then shall treason hide its accursed head in the dust and our native Eagle shall rise—soaring high in the heavens, flap his wings for joy and bear messages of freedom, peace, and good will, from the Northern lakes to the Southern gulf, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and all the nations of the earth shall do us honor and call us thrice blessed.

When Milann Daugherty came across a box of yellowed letters in the bottom drawer of an old dresser, she discovered not only that the letters were all written by her great-great-uncle nearly one hundred and fifty years earlier but that they were a fascinating first-hand account of the Civil War as seen through the eyes of a young soldier. Written in the elegant style typical of the mid-nineteenth century, James Cleaver’s letters reveal his passionate commitment to the cause and his abiding faith. They also give us fresh insight into the daily life of a soldier in the Civil War and the politics of the day. At a time when news traveled slowly and sporadically, it is remarkable how much James grasped about the big picture—the military strategies and the generals who sought to carry them out. Over the course of three years, Milann Daugherty painstakingly transcribed each of the letters, which had suffered from the passage of time, and undertook research to elaborate on much of what James described. Her annotations enhance an already outstanding collection of letters that attest to the extraordinary courage of an ordinary soldier during a critical time in our nation’s history. For more information visit www.uscivilwarletters.com

Milann Daugherty grew up in Western Pennsylvania and graduated from Westminster College with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Because her husband was in the Air Force, she taught in several locations including the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and Okinawa, Japan, before settling down to raise their two children.

In 1991 Milann returned to teaching and taught for sixteen years at the New Castle Christian Academy in Pennsylvania. It was here that her interest in American history was ignited, for it was part of the fourth grade curriculum that she taught. As a result, she was primed for the extraordinary gift of the discovery of her great-great uncle’s Civil War letters.

She is an active member of P.E.O. International (Philanthropic Educational Organization) and has served as president of the P.E.O. Pennsylvania State Chapter. She also keeps busy with hand bell ringing, knitting, and sewing.

In 2007 she and her husband moved to Ohio where he teaches at a state university, and they are able to be nearer their grown children and four grandchildren.

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